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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 21, 2016 12:37am-1:06am EST

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i understand the urgency of life this i i "nightline." >> tonight, behind "making a murderer" with the strange saga of steven avery consuming so many americans we traveled to wisconsin where the story played out. avery wrongfully convicted of rape only to be later charged with murder. >> i didn't do it, i'm innocent. >> our investigation leading us to the main players in the case. the defense attorney now an internet star. >> i want him out of prison. >> the prosecutor who many now see as a villain. >> i hope your daughter gets raped. >> his life turned upside down. we know you the evidence the makers of this controversial netflix documentary left out. >> wake up, netflix! also tonight, one on one with director spike lee, opening up about the oscar uproar,
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diversity in the nominations. will smith speaking out as well. >> that's not the hollywood that you want to leave behind. first the "nightline 5." >> get ready to show your roots. with root touchup from nice and easy. seamlessly blends with leading shades, even salon shades, in 10 minutes. natural-looking color as real as you are. show the world your roots with root touchup. your treatment plan should focus on keeping your body strong so you can fight your cancer without ever missing a beat. that's the power of integrative therapies. the evolution of cancer care is here. learn more at
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seconds. good evening. perhaps not since the o.j. trial has america been so fixated on a criminal case.
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series "making a murderer" has millions of us dissecting and debating the bizarre story of steven avery. tonight we're going to take you to the place where it all unfolded to meet the central players and examine the evidence the documentary left out. here in this tiny frozen over speck on the map the scene of a crime that has become a national obsession. >> now to a hot trend ticking over tv -- >> a netflix do you want tear series captivated the nation -- >> reporter: "making the murderer" explores the strange odyssey of steven avery, 2007 sentenced to lifen prison without parole for the murder of a 25-year-old woman. in the four weeks since the series was released a frenzy of binge watching fueling conspiracy theories and outrage. both among those who think avery was wrongly convicted, framed even, and those who think the documentary is at best misleading.
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>> reporter: i've come to machlt anitua county, wisconsin. >> after having absorbed ten hours of this story, to be here is strange. >> reporter: to see if i can wrap my head around the mystery at the heart of this saga, is steven avery killer? the documentary begins in 2003. steven avery had just been released from prison after serving 18 years for a rape he didn't commit. >> i'm just glad you're home, honey. >> reporter: exonerated by dna evidence. then two years later, just as ery is in t t middle of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the authorities who put him away, those very same authorities charge him with murder. >> i didn't do it, i'm innocent. >> reporter: the once-celebrated face of wrongful convictions now accused of killing and dismembering teresa hallback, a young photographer who had come to the avery family scrap yard to take pictures of a vehicle he
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her charred remains found near avery's trailer. >> it's hard enough going to prison for something you didn't do, then you got to do it all over again? >> reporter: the story caught the attention of two aspiring filmmakers, moira demos and laura richardi, who packed and up moved to wisconsin. >> we were there because we wanted to ask bigger questions about the system. >> is it guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, is the process fair, can we trust the verdict? >> reporter: they devoted a decade to the project, gaining extraordinary access to the main players, from avery who spoke to them by phone from jail -- else. they're paying all their attention to me. >> reporter: to his family waiting on the outside. >> they don't care. they'll take an innocent man and make him guilty and that's what they're doing right now. >> reporter: to avery's defense team who argued that their client was being railroaded, alleging that the local sheriffs, furious about avery's
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>> how many times will steven avery be charged with rapes he didn't commit? >> reporter: the filmmamars capture key moments. >> this is a red letter day for the defense. >> reporter: when avery's attorneys discover a vial of their client's blood, evidence from his first wrongful conviction, appears to have been tampered with. >> some officer went into that file, took a sample of steven of ary's blood, and planted it. >> reporter: also in the film we see that the lawyers believe the police planted something else. the key to teresa hallback's toyota. >> when you came into that bedroom the first time, there was no key on the floor, was there? >> that's correct. >> reporter: it wasn't discovered until the seventh search of avery's bedroom. and it just so happened to have been found by two members of the local sheriff's department who had recently been deposed in avery's civil lawsuit. as you sit here today, all these years later, do you still believe the department or
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steven avery? >> i'm still left with real reason to suspect that. >> reporter: "making a murderer" transformed avery's former defense attorney, the eloquent and emotional dean strang, into a digital-age folk hero. >> redemption will have to wait as it often does in human affairs. >> reporter: we met him in his office where he said the case still troubles him nine years later. >> i want him out of prison. i really am haunted by the concern that he's sitting there innocent. >> reporter: in stark opposition to strang, some on the internet have identified a villain, the man who put avery away. prosecutor ken kratz. when we arrived he showed us nasty e-mails -- >> i hope your daughter gets raped and murdered. >> reporter: and threatening voice mails. >> i'm going to do everything in my power to free steve avery, then i'm coming after you. >> reporter: kratz blames the filmmakers. >> this is not a documentary at all. it's still a defense advocacy
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choose, causes only one reaction and only one conclusion, that mr. avery was innocent. >> reporter: kratz points out there was a mountain of evidence against avery. hallback's remains and her car both found on his property. and avery's dna found on that key which kratz says was only discovered on the seventh search because that's when it fell out of the back of this bookshelf. kratz also points out the jury rejected the framing defense. >> we the jury find the defendant, stephen a. avery, guilty of first degree intentional homicide. >> reporter: in part because they saw vital pieces of evidence the documentarians excluded, including that steven avery's dna from sweat was also found on the hood latch of teresa hallback's rav 4. >> why is that important? because you can't plant, first of all, sweat. how do you leave that out of the documentary? >> if his hand was there, why
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>> they're looking for dna. that's what was looked for and that's what they found. >> they didn't look for fingerprints? >> i don't know. >> i would imagine it would be an important thing to know. you're alleging that he drove this vehicle and hid it. i would imagine his fingerprints would be all over the thing. >> they might have. i don't have the case file. >> reporter: according to krat s kratz, perhaps the most damning omission in the series, avery made three calls to hallback the day she went missing and also requested her by name to come photograph the van he was selling. >> steven of aavery did not just come upon teresa hallback by accident. he targeted her. >> if as you say avery was targeting teresa hallback, why would he call and specifically request her? wouldn't that just be a trail right back to him? >> he believed, at least my theory is, that using a different name and a different phone number was good enough.
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pretty stupid. >> okay. >> reporter: we ran kratz's complaints by the filmmaker. >> his argument that is you left out some key things. and that in the end, it was pro-steven avery misrepresentation. >> i disagree. >> it would be impossible for us to include all of the evidence that was presented at trial. that's called a trial. what we made was a documentary. kratz himself later said that he presented a circumstantial forensic science case and that's what we tried to show in the documentary. he did not have direct evidence of steven avery's guilt. i'm sure if he did he would have used it. >> reporter: sometimes lost in the uproar over the avery case, that he was not the only one convicted for the murder of teresa hallback. his 16-year-old nephew was also sent to prison, in part because of what he told police. >> who shot her in the head?
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>> why didn't you tell us that? >> i couldn't think of it. >> reporter: was this admission coerced? the controversial confession up next. and the surprising twist that landed the winning prosecutor back in the headlines. plus our investigation leads us down that dead-end road. >> that's an avery -- >> reporter: when "nightline" returns. speed... no one way of driving on each and every road. but there is one car that can conquer them all. the mercedes-benz c-class. five driving modes let you customize the steering, shift points, and suspension to fit the mood you're in... and the road you're on. the 2016 c-class. lease the c300 for $399 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. guys, it's just the two of you. the setting is just right. there's something in the air. but here's the thing:
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be honest. you went back into that room. we know you were back there. >> reporter: for some viewers of the netflix documentary series "making a murderer" this is the most infuriating part of the story. >> brandon, were you there when this happened? >> no. >> okay. was she dead there then or not? >> yeah. >> how do you know that?
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steven avery's 16-year-old nephew then, admitting he helped his uncle kill teresa halbach. >> tell me where he shot her. >> like in the head and in the belly and stomach. >> reporter: critics say this video shows dacey, who has a low iq, being manipulated into giving a false confession. >> looking at the interrogation tape of brendan dacey, what leaps out to you? >> cognitively impaired, naive young man, led by intelligent, well-trained adults, using a manipulative set of techniques to try to get him to reveal details or adopt a storyline. suggested to him. >> am i going to be at school before school ends? >> probably not. >> reporter: but the judge ruled that the confession was given freely and willingly so it was allowed into evidence during dacey's trial. >> you feel confident what we're
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>> yes, i would invite any of your viewers to read the entire transcript. and before again buying what is spoonfed them. >> reporter: even though furg during his trial brandon said he made it all up, he was sentenced to life in prison. >> we the jury find the defendant brendan r. dayec guilty -- >> reporter: while so many people across the country are be obsessed with this story. >> how many times have you been here? >> three. >> reporter: this woman has taken it to the next level. >> they're okay letting you rummage through the file? >> yes, you have to make apoint. >> mcbride has become a sort of freelance gumshoe. >> there's so much more that didn't even get through the funnel of the documentary. >> reporter: combing through the court documents herself. she drove us around mishicot, wisconsin. >> the closer you get to the area where the averys actually
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to say, we're certain they're guilty. >> people did not want to speak to us on camera about this case. and i feel sorry for teresa halbach's family who have to live through this story yet again. the real victim here is almost forgotten in the media hype. >> reporter: a sentiment we heard echoed when we visited man eded manitowoc's county sheriff. >> a decade later you have no concern some of your people might have done something inappropriate with the evidence? >> no. i do not. >> zero? >> zero. >> reporter: in fact, the sheriff revealed to us that one of the deputies who found teresa halbach's key in steven avery's bedroom, then patrol sergeant colburn, now has a new position. >> he handles our evidence here and our investigative division. >> reporter: here's how former avery defense attorney dean strang responded when we told him what we'd heard.
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this whole saga is three years after the trial, prosecutor ken kratz became embroiled in scandal. >> serial section erxter. a third woman saying he sent inappropriate messages. >> reporter: he pled no contest after the associated press unearthed racy texts kratz had sent to a domestic violence abuse victim. >> i hope to regain the trust of the crime victims community. >> reporter: he says his problems stemmed from a drug dependency. >> being the center of attention for 18 months every day, being in the limelight. i started medicating. >> reporter: he lost his wife and his job. but now, five years later, he says he is sober and running a business as a defense attorney. although he says his business has now dried up because of the bad publicity from "making a murderer." >> if this costs me my private law practice, i'll take that trade.
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>> reporter: kratz macy be embattled but prominent voices nancy grace. >> steven avery is the killer. the evidence showing his guilt, the overwhelming evidence, is left out of the netflix documentary. >> jimmy: steven avery and brendan are fighting back hard. avery has a new attorney with a history of freeing the wrongly convicted. dacey is waiting on a decision from a federal judge that could allow a new trial. it's easy to walk away from the documentary thinking they may not have done it. >> i think i had a good life before all the trouble started. >> reporter: but the more time i spent on the ground in wisconsin with people like jessica mcbride -- >> should we go to the high school where brendan went to school? >> reporter: the more is. whatever conclusion you land on, you really have to get comfortable with some very uncomfortable facts. for example, if he did it -- >> you have to swallow the fact
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in his life and yet at the moment he was about to successfully sue law enforcement, was going to do something that would bring the full weight of law enforcement down upon him? >> i agree with that. so what the documentary did is it focused on the inconvenient facts that are weird for the law enforcement authorities. and i think they're legitimate questions. >> reporter: in the end, i left wisconsin more confused than when i arrived. >> does any part of you suspect that he may, in fact, be guilty? >> a big part of me worries that he might be guilty. and even bigger part of me says, you know, if convicting people on maybe's or possibly's was how the system worked, that's great, we could slap each other on the back and go out for a beer. but that's not how the system's supposed to work. >> reporter: in the end avery's former defense attorney and the makers of "making a murderer" say this case may remain a mystery. and a bitterly contested mystery at that.
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out to the hallbach family for comment about "making a murderer" and they declined. they told our local station "we are saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profits from our loss." coming up on "nightline," a different kind of controversy, the uproar over race and the oscars. what will smith and spike lee are telling abc news tonight. "beth" by kiss beth, i hear you calling... but i can't come home right now... me and the boys are playing... ... all night text beth, what can i do... [siri:] message. pick up milk. oh, right. milk. introducing the newly redesigned passat. from volkswagen.
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finally tonight we're going to hear from two of hollywood's biggest stars about a controversy rocking the oscars. here's my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. >> there's a regressive slide toward separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony. that's not the hollywood that i want to leave behind. >> reporter: hollywood heavyweight will smith speaking out as stars across tinseltown lambast the monochromatic class of oscar nominees for a second year. >> talent is everywhere but opportunity isn't. >> reporter: many thought idris elba deserved an oscar nod for his role. >> in my opinion haven't done enough to nurture a talent -- >> reporter: george clooney won
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support of diversity. i think african-americans have a real fair point, that the industry isn't representing them well enough. >> every ten years, we get lucky. then when it happens, the players, hollywood's finally turned around, look how much we've made progress. then a drought for nine years. >> reporter: director spike lee says even though he's skipping the glittery night in protest he's not calling for boycott. he believes the problem goes deeper than awards shows. >> we're not in the room in these green light meetings. until that happens, we'll continue to have these stories about the lack of diversity at the oscars. >> reporter: and yet lee says the message transcends hollywood. >> you're going to make more money if your product and your workforce reflects the diversity of this great country. let's go to the bottom line. if you don't change, you're going to lose money.
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juju chang in new york.
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